EtymologyEarly Jewish Christians referred to themselves as 'The Way' ( grc-x-koine, τῆς ὁδοῦ, tês hodoû), probably coming from Isaiah 40:3, "prepare the way of the Lord."Larry Hurtado (17 August 2017 )
BeliefsWhile Christians worldwide share basic convictions, there are also differences of interpretations and opinions of the Bible and sacred traditions on which Christianity is based.Olson, ''The Mosaic of Christian Belief''.
CreedsConcise doctrinal statements or confessions of religious beliefs are known as creeds. They began as baptismal formulae and were later expanded during the Christology, Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries to become statements of faith. "Jesus is Lord" is the earliest creed of Christianity and continues to be used, as with the World Council of Churches. The Apostles' Creed is the most widely accepted statement of the articles of Christian faith. It is used by a number of for both liturgy, liturgical and catechesis, catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical churches of Western Christian tradition, including the Latin Church of the , Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Western Rite Orthodoxy. It is also used by Presbyterianism, Presbyterians, Methodism, Methodists, and Congregational church, Congregationalists. This particular creed was developed between the 2nd and 9th centuries. Its central doctrines are those of the Trinity and God in Christianity, God the Creator deity, Creator. Each of the doctrines found in this creed can be traced to statements current in the Apostolic Age, apostolic period. The creed was apparently used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome. Its points include: * Belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ as the , and the Holy Spirit (Christianity), Holy Spirit * The crucifixion of Jesus, death, Harrowing of Hell, descent into hell, resurrection of Jesus, resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, ascension of Christ * The holiness of the Ecclesia (church), Church and the communion of saints * Christ's second coming, the Last Judgment, Day of Judgement and of the faithful The Nicene Creed was formulated, largely in response to Arianism, at the Councils of First Council of Nicaea, Nicaea and First Council of Constantinople, Constantinople in 325 and 381 respectively, and ratified as the universal creed of Christendom by the First Council of Ephesus in 431.''Catholic Encyclopedia''
JesusThe central tenet of Christianity is the belief in Jesus as the Son of God (Christianity), Son of God and the Messiah (Christ). Christians believe that Jesus, as the Messiah, was anointing, anointed by God as savior of humanity and hold that Jesus' coming was the fulfillment of Christian messianic prophecies, messianic prophecies of the . The Christian concept of messiah differs significantly from Messiah in Judaism, the contemporary Jewish concept. The core Christian belief is that through belief in and acceptance of Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the death and resurrection of Jesus, original sin, sinful humans can be reconciled to God, and thereby are offered salvation and the promise of Immortality, eternal life. While there have been many disputes over the Christology, nature of Jesus over the earliest centuries of Christian history, generally, Christians believe that Jesus is Incarnation (Christianity), God incarnate and "Hypostatic union, true God and true man" (or both fully divine and fully human). Jesus, having become Incarnation (Christianity), fully human, suffered the pains and temptations of a mortal man, but did not Christian views on sin, sin. As fully God, he rose to life again. According to the , he Resurrection of Jesus, rose from the dead, Ascension of Jesus, ascended to heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will ultimately Second Coming, return to fulfill the rest of the Messianic prophecy, including the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, and the final establishment of the Kingdom of God (Christianity), Kingdom of God. According to the Biblical canon, canonical gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus was Incarnation (Christianity), conceived by the Holy Spirit (Christianity), Holy Spirit and Nativity of Jesus, born from Mary, mother of Jesus, the Virgin Mary. Little of Jesus' childhood is recorded in the canonical gospels, although infancy gospels were popular in antiquity. In comparison, his adulthood, especially the week before his death, is well documented in the gospels contained within the , because that part of his life is believed to be most important. The biblical accounts of Ministry of Jesus, Jesus' ministry include: Baptism of Jesus, his baptism, Miracles of Jesus, miracles, preaching, teaching, and deeds.
Death and resurrectionChristians consider the resurrection of Jesus to be the cornerstone of their faith (see 1 Corinthians 15) and the most important event in history. Among Christian beliefs, the death and resurrection of Jesus are two core events on which much of Christian doctrine and theology is based. According to the New Testament, Jesus was Crucifixion, crucified, died a physical death, was buried within a tomb, and rose from the dead three days later. The Overview of resurrection appearances in the Gospels and Paul, New Testament mentions several post-resurrection appearances of Jesus on different occasions to his twelve apostles and disciple (Christianity), disciples, including "more than five hundred brethren at once", before Jesus' Ascension of Jesus, ascension to heaven. Jesus' death and resurrection are commemorated by Christians in all worship services, with special emphasis during Holy Week, which includes Good Friday and Easter, Easter Sunday. The death and resurrection of Jesus are usually considered the most important events in Christian theology, partly because they demonstrate that Jesus has power over life and death and therefore has the authority and power to give people Eternal life (Christianity), eternal life. Christian churches accept and teach the account of the resurrection of Jesus with very few exceptions. Some modern scholars use the belief of Jesus' followers in the resurrection as a point of departure for establishing the continuity of the historical Jesus and the proclamation of the early church. Some Liberal Christianity, liberal Christians do not accept a literal bodily resurrection, seeing the story as richly symbolic and spiritually nourishing mythology, myth. Arguments over death and resurrection claims occur at many religious debates and interfaith, interfaith dialogues. Paul the Apostle, an early Christian convert and missionary, wrote, "If Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless."
SalvationPaul the Apostle, like Jews and Roman pagans of his time, believed that sacrifice can bring about new kinship ties, purity, and eternal life. For Paul, the necessary sacrifice was the death of Jesus: Gentiles who are "Christ's" are, like Israel, descendants of Abraham and "heirs according to the promise" The God who raised Jesus from the dead would also give new life to the "mortal bodies" of Gentile Christians, who had become with Israel, the "children of God", and were therefore no longer "in the flesh". Modern Christian churches tend to be much more concerned with how humanity can be eternal salvation, saved from a universal condition of sin and death than the question of how both Jews and Gentiles can be in God's family. According to Eastern Orthodox theology, based upon their understanding of the atonement as put forward by Irenaeus' Recapitulation (Irenaeus), recapitulation theory, Jesus' death is a Ransom theory of atonement, ransom. This restores the relation with God, who is loving and reaches out to humanity, and offers the possibility of ''Theosis (Eastern Orthodox theology), theosis'' c.q. Divinization (Christian), divinization, becoming the kind of humans God wants humanity to be. According to Catholic doctrine, Jesus' death Satisfaction theory of atonement, satisfies the wrath of God, aroused by the offense to God's honor caused by human's sinfulness. The Catholic Church teaches that salvation does not occur without faithfulness on the part of Christians; converts must live in accordance with principles of love and ordinarily must be baptized. In Protestant theology, Jesus' death is regarded as a Penal substitution, substitutionary penalty carried by Jesus, for the debt that has to be paid by humankind when it broke God's moral law. Martin Luther taught that baptism was necessary for salvation, but modern Lutherans and other Protestants tend to teach that salvation is a gift that comes to an individual by Divine grace, God's grace, sometimes defined as "unmerited favor", even apart from baptism. Christians differ in their views on the extent to which individuals' salvation is pre-ordained by God. Reformed theology places distinctive emphasis on grace by teaching that individuals are total depravity, completely incapable of self-redemption, but that irresistible grace, sanctifying grace is irresistible. In contrast Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Arminianism, Arminian Protestants believe that the exercise of free will is necessary to have faith in Jesus.
Trinity''Trinity'' refers to the teaching that the one GodChristianity's status as monotheistic is affirmed in, among other sources, the ''Catholic Encyclopedia'' (article
Trinitarians''Trinitarianism'' denotes Christians who believe in the concept of the Trinity. Almost all Christian denominations and churches hold Trinitarian beliefs. Although the words "Trinity" and "Triune" do not appear in the Bible, beginning in the 3rd century theologians developed the term and concept to facilitate comprehension of the New Testament teachings of God as being Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Since that time, Christian theologians have been careful to emphasize that Trinity does not imply that there are three gods (the antitrinitarian heresy of Tritheism), nor that each hypostasis of the Trinity is one-third of an infinite God (partialism), nor that the Son and the Holy Spirit are beings created by and subordinate to the Father (Arianism). Rather, the Trinity is defined as one God in three persons.
Nontrinitarianism''Nontrinitarianism'' (or ''antitrinitarianism'') refers to theology that rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. Various nontrinitarian views, such as adoptionism or modalism, existed in early Christianity, leading to the disputes about . Nontrinitarianism reappeared in the Gnosticism of the Cathars between the 11th and 13th centuries, among groups with Unitarianism, Unitarian theology in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, in the 18th-century Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment, amongst some groups arising during the Second Great Awakening of the 19th century, and most recently, in Oneness Pentecostalism, Oneness Pentecostal churches.
EschatologyThe end of things, whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, or the end of the world, broadly speaking, is Christian eschatology; the study of the destiny of humans as it is revealed in the Bible. The major issues in Christian eschatology are the Great Tribulation, Tribulation, death and the afterlife, (mainly for Evangelical Christianity, Evangelical groups) Millennialism, the Millennium and the following Rapture, the Second Coming of Jesus, Resurrection of the Dead, Heaven, (for Christian liturgy, liturgical branches) Purgatory, and Hell, the Last Judgment, the end of the world, and the New Heavens and New Earth. Christians believe that the second coming of Christ will occur at the eschatology, end of time, after a period of severe persecution (the Great Tribulation). All who have died will be Resurrection of the dead, resurrected bodily from the dead for the Last Judgment. Jesus will fully establish the Kingdom of God in fulfillment of Bible prophecy, scriptural prophecies.Thomas Aquinas
Death and afterlifeMost Christians believe that human beings experience divine judgment and are rewarded either with eternal life or hell, eternal damnation. This includes the Last Judgment, general judgement at the resurrection of the dead as well as the belief (held by Catholics,''Catholic Encyclopedia'',
PracticesDepending on the specific Christian denomination, denomination of Christianity, practices may include baptism, the Eucharist (Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper), Christian prayer, prayer (including the Lord's Prayer), Confession (religion), confession, confirmation, burial rites, marriage rites and the religious education of children. Most denominations have ordained clergy who lead regular wikt:communal, communal worship services.
Communal worshipChurch service, Services of worship typically follow a pattern or form known as Christian liturgy, liturgy. Justin Martyr described 2nd-century Christian liturgy in his ''First Apology'' () to Emperor Antoninus Pius, and his description remains relevant to the basic structure of Christian liturgical worship: Thus, as Justin described, Christians assemble for communal worship typically on Sunday, the day of the resurrection, though other liturgical practices often occur outside this setting. Scripture readings are drawn from the Old and New Testaments, but especially the gospels. Instruction is given based on these readings, called a sermon or homily. There are a variety of Church (congregation), congregational prayers, including thanksgiving, confession, and intercession, which occur throughout the service and take a variety of forms including recited, responsive, silent, or sung. Psalms, hymns, or worship songs may be sung. Services can be varied for special events like significant Calendar of saints, feast days. Nearly all forms of worship incorporate the Eucharist, which consists of a meal. It is reenacted in accordance with Jesus' instruction at the Last Supper that his followers do in remembrance of him as when he gave his disciples Sacramental bread, bread, saying, "This is my body", and gave them sacramental wine, wine saying, "This is my blood". In the Early Christianity, early church, Christians and those yet to complete initiation would separate for the Eucharistic part of the service. Some denominations such as Confessional Lutheran churches continue to practice 'closed communion'. They offer communion to those who are already united in that denomination or sometimes individual church. Catholics further restrict participation to their members who are not in a state of mortal sin. Many other churches, such as Anglican Communion and United Methodist Church, practice 'open communion' since they view communion as a means to unity, rather than an end, and invite all believing Christians to participate.
Sacraments or ordinancesIn Christian belief and practice, a ''sacrament'' is a rite, instituted by Christ, that confers divine grace, grace, constituting a Sacred Mysteries, sacred mystery. The term is derived from the Latin word ''sacramentum'', which was used to translate the Greek word for ''mystery''. Views concerning both which rites are sacramental, and what it means for an act to be a sacrament, vary among Christian denominations and traditions.Cross/Livingstone. ''The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church''. pp. 1435ff. The most conventional functional definition of a sacrament is that it is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, that conveys an inward, spiritual grace through Christ. The two most widely accepted sacraments are Baptism and the Eucharist; however, the majority of Christians also recognize five additional sacraments: Confirmation (Christian sacrament), Confirmation (Chrismation in the Eastern tradition), Holy Orders (or ), Penance (or Confession (religion), Confession), Anointing of the Sick, and Matrimony (see Christian views on marriage). Taken together, these are the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, Seven Sacraments as recognized by churches in the High Church tradition—notably Sacraments of the Catholic Church, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Independent Catholic Churches, Independent Catholic, Old Catholic, many Anglican sacraments, Anglicans, and some Lutherans. Most other denominations and traditions typically affirm only Baptism and Eucharist as sacraments, while some Protestant groups, such as the Quakers, reject sacramental theology. Evangelicalism, Evangelical churches adhering to the doctrine of the believers' Church mostly use the term "ordinance (Christianity), ordinances" to refer to baptism and communion. In addition to this, the has two additional sacraments in place of the traditional sacraments of Matrimony and the Anointing of the Sick. These include Holy Leaven (Melka) and the sign of the cross.''Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon.''
Liturgical calendarCatholics, Eastern Christians, Lutherans, Anglicans and other traditional Protestant communities frame worship around the liturgical year. The liturgical cycle divides the year into a series of seasons, each with their theological emphases, and modes of prayer, which can be signified by different ways of decorating churches, colors of paraments and vestments for clergy, scriptural readings, themes for preaching and even different traditions and practices often observed personally or in the home. Western Christian liturgical calendars are based on the cycle of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, and Eastern Christians use analogous calendars based on the cycle of their respective Rite#Christian, rites. Calendars set aside holy days, such as Solemnity, solemnities which commemorate an event in the life of Jesus, Mary, or the saints, and periods of fasting, such as Lent and other pious events such as memoria, or lesser festivals commemorating saints. Christian groups that do not follow a liturgical tradition often retain certain celebrations, such as Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost: these are the celebrations of Christ's birth, resurrection, and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, respectively. A few denominations such as Quakers, Quaker Christians make no use of a liturgical calendar.
SymbolsChristianity has not generally practiced Aniconism in Christianity, aniconism, the avoidance or prohibition of devotional images, even if early s and some modern Christian denomination, denominations, invoking the Ten Commandments, Decalogue's prohibition of idolatry, avoided figures in their symbols. The Christian cross, cross, today one of the most widely recognized symbols, was used by Christians from the earliest times. Tertullian, in his book ''De Corona'', tells how it was already a tradition for Christians to trace the sign of the cross on their foreheads. Although the cross was known to the early Christians, the crucifix did not appear in use until the 5th century.Dilasser. ''The Symbols of the Church''. Among the earliest Christian symbols, that of the fish or Ichthys seems to have ranked first in importance, as seen on monumental sources such as tombs from the first decades of the 2nd century.''Catholic Encyclopedia'',
BaptismBaptism is the ritual act, with the use of water, by which a person is admitted to membership of the Christian Church, Church. Beliefs on baptism vary among denominations. Differences occur firstly on whether the act has any spiritual significance. Some, such as the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, as well as Lutherans and Anglicans, hold to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, which affirms that baptism creates or strengthens a person's faith, and is intimately linked to salvation. Others view baptism as a purely symbolic act, an external public declaration of the inward change which has taken place in the person, but not as spiritually efficacious. Secondly, there are differences of opinion on the methodology of the act. These methods are: by Immersion baptism, ''immersion''; if immersion is total, by ''submersion''; by affusion (pouring); and by aspersion (sprinkling). Those who hold the first view may also adhere to the tradition of infant baptism; the Orthodox Churches all practice infant baptism and always baptize by total immersion repeated three times in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church also practices infant baptism, usually by affusion, and utilizing the Trinitarian formula. Evangelical denominations adhering to the doctrine of the believers' Church, practice the believer's baptism, Baptism by immersion, by immersion in water, after the new birth and a profession of faith. For newborns, there is a ceremony called child dedication.
PrayerIn the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Jesus taught the Lord's Prayer, which has been seen as a model for Christian prayer. The injunction for Christians to pray the Lord's prayer thrice daily was given in the ''Didache'' and came to be recited by Christians at 9 am, 12 pm, and 3 pm. In the second century ''Apostolic Tradition'', Hippolytus of Rome, Hippolytus instructed Christians to pray at fixed prayer times, seven fixed prayer times: "on rising, at the lighting of the evening lamp, at bedtime, at midnight" and "the third, sixth and ninth hours of the day, being hours associated with Christ's Passion." Prayer positions, including kneeling, standing, and prostrations have been used for these seven fixed prayer times since the days of the early Church. Breviary, Breviaries such as the Shehimo and Agpeya are used by Oriental Orthodox Christians to pray these canonical hours while facing in the direction of prayer, eastward direction of prayer. The ''Apostolic Tradition'' directed that the sign of the cross be used by Christians during the Minor exorcism in Christianity, minor exorcism of baptism, during ablution in Christianity, ablutions before praying at fixed prayer times, and in times of temptation. ''Intercessory prayer'' is prayer offered for the benefit of other people. There are many intercessory prayers recorded in the Bible, including prayers of the Apostle Peter on behalf of sick persons and by prophets of the Old Testament in favor of other people. In the Epistle of James, no distinction is made between the intercessory prayer offered by ordinary believers and the prominent Old Testament prophet Elijah. The effectiveness of prayer in Christianity derives from the power of God rather than the status of the one praying. The ancient church, in both Eastern Christianity, Eastern and Western Christianity, developed a tradition of asking for the intercession of saints, intercession of (deceased) saints, and this remains the practice of most Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholic Church, Catholic, and some Anglican churches. Churches of the Protestant Reformation, however, rejected prayer to the saints, largely on the basis of the sole mediatorship of Christ. The reformer Huldrych Zwingli admitted that he had offered prayers to the saints until his reading of the Bible convinced him that this was idolatry in Christianity, idolatrous. According to the ''Catechism of the Catholic Church'': "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." The ''Book of Common Prayer'' in the Anglican tradition is a guide which provides a set order for services, containing set prayers, scripture readings, and hymns or sung Psalms. Frequently in Western Christianity, when praying, the hands are placed palms together and forward as in the feudal commendation ceremony. At other times the older orans posture may be used, with palms up and elbows in.
ScripturesChristianity, like other religions, has adherents whose beliefs and biblical interpretations vary. Christianity regards the biblical canon, the and the , as the Biblical inspiration, inspired word of God. The traditional view of inspiration is that God worked through human authors so that what they produced was what God wished to communicate. The Greek word referring to inspiration in is ''theopneustos'', which literally means "God-breathed". Some believe that divine inspiration makes our present Bibles Biblical inerrancy, inerrant. Others claim inerrancy for the Bible in its original manuscripts, although none of those are extant. Still others maintain that only a particular translation is inerrant, such as the King James Version. Another closely related view is biblical infallibility or limited inerrancy, which affirms that the Bible is free of error as a guide to salvation, but may include errors on matters such as history, geography, or science. The books of the Bible accepted by the Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches vary somewhat, with Jews accepting only the Hebrew Bible as canonical; however, there is substantial overlap. These variations are a reflection of the range of traditions, and of the Ecumenical council, councils that have convened on the subject. Every version of the Old Testament always includes the books of the Tanakh, the canon of the . The Catholic and Orthodox canons, in addition to the Tanakh, also include the deuterocanonical books as part of the Old Testament. These books appear in the Septuagint, but are regarded by Protestants to be Biblical apocrypha, apocryphal. However, they are considered to be important historical documents which help to inform the understanding of words, grammar, and syntax used in the historical period of their conception. Some versions of the Bible include a separate Apocrypha section between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The New Testament, originally written in Koine Greek, contains 27 books which are agreed upon by all major churches. Modern scholarship has raised many issues with the Bible. While the Authorized King James Version, King James Version is held to by many because of its striking English prose, in fact it was translated from the Erasmus Greek Bible, which in turn "was based on a single 12th Century manuscript that is one of the worst manuscripts we have available to us".Ehrman, Bart D. (2005). ''Misquoting Jesus: the story behind who changed the Bible and why''. San Francisco: Harper pp. 183, 209 Much scholarship in the past several hundred years has gone into comparing different manuscripts in order to reconstruct the original text. Another issue is that several books are considered to be forgeries. The injunction that women "be silent and submissive" in 1 Timothy 2 is thought by many to be a forgery by a follower of Paul, a similar phrase in 1 Corinthians 14, which is thought to be by Paul, appears in different places in different manuscripts and is thought to originally be a margin note by a copyist. Other verses in 1 Corinthians, such as 1 Corinthians 11:2–16 where women are instructed to wear a covering over their hair "when they pray or prophesies", contradict this verse. A final issue with the Bible is the way in which books were selected for inclusion in the New Testament. Gnostic Gospels, Other gospels have now been recovered, such as those found near Nag Hammadi in 1945, and while some of these texts are quite different from what Christians have been used to, it should be understood that some of this newly recovered Gospel material is quite possibly contemporaneous with, or even earlier than, the New Testament Gospels. The core of the Gospel of Thomas, in particular, may date from as early as AD 50 (although some major scholars contest this early dating), and if so would provide an insight into the earliest gospel texts that underlie the canonical Gospels, texts that are mentioned in Luke 1:1–2. The Gospel of Thomas contains much that is familiar from the canonical Gospels—verse 113, for example ("The Father's Kingdom is spread out upon the earth, but people do not see it"), is reminiscent of Luke 17:20–21—and the Gospel of John, with a terminology and approach that is suggestive of what was later termed ''Gnosticism'', has recently been seen as a possible response to the Gospel of Thomas, a text that is commonly labeled ''proto-Gnostic''. Scholarship, then, is currently exploring the relationship in the early church between mystical speculation and experience on the one hand and the search for church order on the other, by analyzing new-found texts, by subjecting canonical texts to further scrutiny, and by an examination of the passage of New Testament texts to canonical status. Some denominations have Religious text#Additional and alternate scriptures, additional canonical holy scriptures beyond the Bible, including the standard works of the Latter Day Saints movement and ''Divine Principle'' in the Unification Church.
Catholic interpretationIn antiquity, two schools of exegesis developed in Alexandria and School of Antioch, Antioch. The Alexandrian interpretation, exemplified by Origen, tended to read Scripture allegory, allegorically, while the Antiochene interpretation adhered to the literal sense, holding that other meanings (called ''theoria'') could only be accepted if based on the literal meaning. Catholic Church, Catholic theology distinguishes two senses of scripture: the literal and the spiritual. The ''literal'' sense of understanding scripture is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture. The ''spiritual'' sense is further subdivided into: * The ''allegorical'' sense, which includes Typology (theology), typology. An example would be the Passage of the Red Sea, parting of the Red Sea being understood as a "type" (sign) of baptism. * The ''moral'' sense, which understands the scripture to contain some ethical teaching. * The ''anagoge, anagogical'' sense, which applies to eschatology, eternity and the Apocalypse, consummation of the world Regarding exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation, Catholic theology holds: * The injunction that all other senses of sacred scripture are based on the ''literal'' * That the historicity of the Gospels must be absolutely and constantly held * That scripture must be read within the "living Tradition of the whole Church" and * That "the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of diocese of Rome, Rome".
Qualities of ScriptureMany Protestant Christians, such as Lutherans and the Reformed, believe in the doctrine of ''sola scriptura''--that the Bible is a self-sufficient revelation, the final authority on all Christian doctrine, and Revelation, revealed all truth necessary for salvation; other Protestant Christians, such as Methodists and Anglicans, affirm the doctrine of ''prima scriptura'' which teaches that Scripture is the primary source for Christian doctrine, but that "tradition, experience, and reason" can nurture the Christian religion as long as they are in harmony with the Bible. Protestants characteristically believe that ordinary believers may reach an adequate understanding of Scripture because Scripture itself is clear in its meaning (or "perspicuous"). Martin Luther believed that without God's help, Scripture would be "enveloped in darkness". He advocated for "one definite and simple understanding of Scripture". John Calvin wrote, "all who refuse not to follow the Holy Spirit as their guide, find in the Scripture a clear light". Related to this is "efficacy", that Scripture is able to lead people to faith; and "sufficiency", that the Scriptures contain everything that one needs to know in order to obtain salvation and to live a Christian life.
Original intended meaning of ScriptureProtestants stress the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture, the historical-grammatical method. The historical-grammatical method or grammatico-historical method is an effort in Biblical hermeneutics to find the intended original meaning in the text. This original intended meaning of the text is drawn out through examination of the passage in light of the grammatical and syntactical aspects, the historical background, the literary genre, as well as theological (canonical) considerations. The historical-grammatical method distinguishes between the one original meaning and the significance of the text. The significance of the text includes the ensuing use of the text or application. The original passage is seen as having only a single meaning or sense. As Milton S. Terry said: "A fundamental principle in grammatico-historical exposition is that the words and sentences can have but one significance in one and the same connection. The moment we neglect this principle we drift out upon a sea of uncertainty and conjecture." Technically speaking, the grammatical-historical method of interpretation is distinct from the determination of the passage's significance in light of that interpretation. Taken together, both define the term (Biblical) hermeneutics. Some Protestant interpreters make use of Typology (theology), typology.
Apostolic AgeChristianity developed during the 1st century CE as a sect of Second Temple Judaism. An early Jewish Christian community was founded in Jerusalem under the leadership of the Pillars of the Church, namely James the Just, the brother of Jesus, Saint Peter, Peter, and John. Jewish Christianity soon attracted Gentile God-fearers, posing a problem for its Jewish religious outlook, which insisted on close observance of the Jewish commands. Paul the Apostle solved this by insisting that salvation by Pistis Christou, faith in Christ, and Participation in Christ, participation in his death and resurrection by their baptism, sufficed. At first he persecuted the early Christians, but after a conversion experience he preached to the gentiles, and is regarded as having had a formative effect on the emerging Christian identity as separate from Judaism. Eventually, his departure from Jewish customs would result in the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion.
Ante-Nicene periodThis formative period was followed by the early bishops, whom Christians consider the apostolic succession, successors of Christ's apostles. From the year 150, Christian teachers began to produce theological and apologetic works aimed at defending the faith. These authors are known as the Church Fathers, and the study of them is called patristics. Notable early Fathers include Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and Origen. Persecution of Christians occurred intermittently and on a small scale by both Jewish and Persecution of early Christians by the Romans, Roman authorities, with Roman action starting at the time of the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD. Examples of early executions under Jewish authority reported in the include the deaths of Saint Stephen and James, son of Zebedee. The Decian persecution was the first empire-wide conflict,Martin, D. 2010
Spread and acceptance in Roman EmpireChristianity spread to Aramaic-speaking peoples along the Mediterranean coast and also to the inland parts of the Roman Empire and beyond that into the Parthian Empire and the later Sasanian Empire, including , which was dominated at different times and to varying extents by these empires. The presence of Christianity in Africa began in the middle of the 1st century in Egypt and by the end of the 2nd century in the region around Carthage. Mark the Evangelist is claimed to have started the Church of Alexandria in about 43 CE; various later churches claim this as their own legacy, including the Coptic Orthodox Church. Important Africans who influenced the early development of Christianity include Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria, Cyprian, Athanasius, and Augustine of Hippo. Tiridates III of Armenia, King Tiridates III made Christianity the state religion in Armenia between 301 and 314, thus Armenia became the first officially Christian state. It was not an entirely new religion in Armenia, having penetrated into the country from at least the third century, but it may have been present even earlier. Constantine the Great, Constantine I was exposed to Christianity in his youth, and throughout his life his support for the religion grew, culminating in baptism on his deathbed. During his reign, state-sanctioned persecution of Christians was ended with the Edict of Serdica, Edict of Toleration in 311 and the in 313. At that point, Christianity was still a minority belief, comprising perhaps only five percent of the Roman population. Influenced by his adviser Mardonius (philosopher), Mardonius, Constantine's nephew Julian (emperor), Julian unsuccessfully tried to suppress Christianity. On 27 February 380, Theodosius I, Gratian, and Valentinian II established Nicene Christianity as the . As soon as it became connected to the state, Christianity grew wealthy; the Church solicited donations from the rich and could now own land. Constantine was also instrumental in the convocation of the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which sought to address Arianism and formulated the Nicene Creed, which is still used by in Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and many other Protestant churches. Nicaea was the first of a series of ecumenical councils, which formally defined critical elements of the theology of the Church, notably concerning .McManners, ''Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity'', pp. 37ff. The did not accept the third and following ecumenical councils and is still separate today by its successors (Assyrian Church of the East). In terms of prosperity and cultural life, the Byzantine Empire was one of the peaks in Christian history and Christian civilization, and Constantinople remained the leading city of the Christian world in size, wealth, and culture. Greek scholars in the Renaissance, There was a renewed interest in classical Greek philosophy, as well as an increase in literary output in vernacular Greek.. Byzantine art and literature held a preeminent place in Europe, and the cultural impact of Byzantine art on the West during this period was enormous and of long-lasting significance.. The later rise of Islam in North Africa reduced the size and numbers of Christian congregations, leaving in large numbers only the Coptic Orthodox Church, Coptic Church in Egypt, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the Horn of Africa and the Christianity in Sudan, Nubian Church in the Sudan (Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia).
Early Middle AgesWith the decline and Fall of the Western Roman Empire, fall of the Roman Empire in the West, the papacy became a political player, first visible in Pope Leo I, Pope Leo's diplomatic dealings with Attila the Hun, Huns and Vandals. The church also entered into a long period of missionary activity and expansion among the various tribes. While Arianism, Arianists instituted the death penalty for practicing pagans (see the Massacre of Verden, for example), what would later become Catholicism also spread among the Hungarians, the Germanic peoples, Germanic, the Celts, Celtic, the Baltic peoples, Baltic and some Slavic peoples. Around 500, St. Benedict set out his Monastic Rule, establishing a system of regulations for the foundation and running of monasteries. Monasticism became a powerful force throughout Europe, and gave rise to many early centers of learning, most famously in Ireland, Scotland, and Gaul, contributing to the Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century. In the 7th century, Muslim conquest of Syria, Muslims conquered Syria (including Jerusalem), North Africa, and Spain, converting some of the Christian population to Islam, and placing the rest under a separate Dhimmi, legal status. Part of the Muslims' success was due to the exhaustion of the Byzantine Empire in its decades long conflict with Persia. Beginning in the 8th century, with the rise of Carolingian leaders, the Papacy sought greater political support in the Frankish Kingdom. The Middle Ages brought about major changes within the church. Pope Gregory the Great dramatically reformed the Ecclesiastical polity, ecclesiastical structure and administration. In the early 8th century, iconoclasm became a divisive issue, when it was sponsored by the Byzantium, Byzantine emperors. The Second Council of Nicaea, Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (787) finally pronounced in favor of icons. In the early 10th century, Western Christian monasticism was further rejuvenated through the leadership of the great Benedictine monastery of Cluny Abbey, Cluny.
High and Late Middle AgesIn the West, from the 11th century onward, some older cathedral schools Medieval university, became universities (see, for example, University of Oxford, University of Paris and University of Bologna). Previously, higher education had been the domain of Christian cathedral schools or monastic schools (''Scholae monasticae''), led by monks and nuns. Evidence of such schools dates back to the 6th century CE. These new universities expanded the curriculum to include academic programs for clerics, lawyers, civil servants, and physicians. The university is generally regarded as an institution that has its origin in the History of Christianity, Medieval Christian setting.Rüegg, Walter: "Foreword. The University as a European Institution", in: ''A History of the University in Europe. Vol. 1: Universities in the Middle Ages'', Cambridge University Press, 1992, , pp. XIX–XX Accompanying the rise of the "new towns" throughout Europe, mendicant orders were founded, bringing the Consecrated life (Catholic Church), consecrated religious life out of the monastery and into the new urban setting. The two principal mendicant movements were the Franciscans and the Dominican Order, Dominicans, founded by Francis of Assisi, St. Francis and St. Dominic, respectively. Both orders made significant contributions to the development of the great universities of Europe. Another new order was the Cistercians, whose large isolated monasteries spearheaded the settlement of former wilderness areas. In this period, church building and ecclesiastical architecture reached new heights, culminating in the orders of Romanesque architecture, Romanesque and Gothic architecture and the building of the great European cathedrals. Christian nationalism emerged during this era in which Christians felt the impulse to recover lands in which Christianity had historically flourished. From 1095 under the pontificate of Urban II, the First Crusade was launched. These were a series of military campaigns in the Holy Land and elsewhere, initiated in response to pleas from the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I for aid against Turkish people, Turkish expansion. The Crusades ultimately failed to stifle Islamic aggression and even contributed to Christian enmity with the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. The Christian Church experienced internal conflict between the 7th and 13th centuries that resulted in a East-West Schism, schism between the so-called Latin or Western Christian branch (the Catholic Church), and an Eastern Christianity, Eastern, largely Greek, branch (the ). The two sides disagreed on a number of administrative, liturgical and doctrinal issues, most prominently Eastern Orthodox opposition to papal supremacy.Duffy, ''Saints and Sinners'' (1997), p. 91 The Second Council of Lyon (1274) and the Council of Florence (1439) attempted to reunite the churches, but in both cases, the Eastern Orthodox refused to implement the decisions, and the two principal churches remain in schism to the present day. However, the Catholic Church has achieved union with various Eastern Catholic Churches, smaller eastern churches. In the thirteenth century, a new emphasis on Jesus' suffering, exemplified by the Franciscans' preaching, had the consequence of turning worshippers' attention towards Jews, on whom Jewish deicide, Christians had placed the blame for Jesus' death. Christianity's limited tolerance of Jews was not new—Augustine of Hippo said that Jews should not be allowed to enjoy the citizenship that Christians took for granted—but the growing antipathy towards Jews was a factor that led to Edict of Expulsion, the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290, the first of many such expulsions in Europe. Beginning around 1184, following the crusade against Cathars, Cathar heresy, various institutions, broadly referred to as the Inquisition, were established with the aim of suppressing heresy and securing religious and doctrinal unity within Christianity through religious conversion, conversion and prosecution.
Protestant Reformation and Counter-ReformationThe 15th-century Renaissance brought about a renewed interest in ancient and classical learning. During the , Martin Luther posted the ''Ninety-five Theses'' 1517 against the sale of indulgences.Simon. ''Great Ages of Man: The Reformation''. pp. 39, 55–61. Printed copies soon spread throughout Europe. In 1521 the Edict of Worms condemned and excommunicated Luther and his followers, resulting in the schism of the Western Christianity, Western Christendom into several branches.Simon. ''Great Ages of Man: The Reformation''. p. 7. Other reformers like Huldrych Zwingli, Zwingli, Johannes Oecolampadius, Oecolampadius, John Calvin, Calvin, John Knox, Knox, and Jacobus Arminius, Arminius further criticized Catholic teaching and worship. These challenges developed into the movement called , which repudiated the papal primacy, primacy of the pope, the role of tradition, the Catholic sacraments, seven sacraments, and other doctrines and practices. The English Reformation, Reformation in England began in 1534, when Henry VIII of England, King Henry VIII had himself Act of Supremacy, declared head of the Church of England. Beginning in 1536, the monasteries throughout England, Wales and Ireland were Dissolution of the monasteries, dissolved.Schama. ''A History of Britain''. pp. 306–310. Thomas Müntzer, Andreas Karlstadt and other theologians perceived both the Catholic Church and the confessions of the Magisterial Reformation as corrupted. Their activity brought about the Radical Reformation, which gave birth to various Anabaptism, Anabaptist denominations. Partly in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church engaged in a substantial process of reform and renewal, known as the Counter-Reformation or Catholic Reform. The Council of Trent clarified and reasserted Catholic doctrine. During the following centuries, competition between Catholicism and Protestantism became deeply entangled with political struggles among European states.Simon. ''Great Ages of Man: The Reformation''. pp. 109–120. Meanwhile, the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492 brought about a new wave of missionary activity. Partly from missionary zeal, but under the impetus of Colonialism, colonial expansion by the European powers, Christianity spread to the Americas, Oceania, East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Throughout Europe, the division caused by the Reformation led to outbreaks of religious violence and the establishment of separate state churches in Europe. Lutheranism spread into the northern, central, and eastern parts of present-day Germany, Livonia, and Scandinavia. Anglicanism was established in England in 1534. Calvinism and its varieties, such as Presbyterianism, were introduced in Scotland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland, and France. Arminianism gained followers in the Netherlands and Frisia. Ultimately, these differences led to the outbreak of religious war, conflicts in which religion played a key factor. The Thirty Years' War, the English Civil War, and the French Wars of Religion are prominent examples. These events intensified the Christian debate on persecution and toleration. In the revival of neoplatonism Renaissance humanism, Renaissance humanists did not reject Christianity; quite the contrary, many of the greatest works of the Renaissance were devoted to it, and the Catholic Church patronized many works of Renaissance art.Open University,
Post-EnlightenmentIn the era known as the Great Divergence, when in the West, the Age of Enlightenment and the scientific revolution brought about great societal changes, Christianity was confronted with various forms of skepticism and with certain modern Ideology, political ideologies, such as versions of socialism and liberalism. Events ranged from mere anti-clericalism to violent outbursts against Christianity, such as the dechristianisation of France during the French Revolution, dechristianization of France during the French Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, and certain Marxism, Marxist movements, especially Russian Revolution (1917), the Russian Revolution and the persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union under state atheism. Especially pressing in Europe was the formation of nation states after the Napoleonic era. In all European countries, different Christian denominations found themselves in competition to greater or lesser extents with each other and with the state. Variables were the relative sizes of the denominations and the religious, political, and ideological orientation of the states. Urs Altermatt of the University of Fribourg, looking specifically at Catholicism in Europe, identifies four models for the European nations. In traditionally Catholic-majority countries such as Belgium, Spain, and Austria, to some extent, religious and national communities are more or less identical. Cultural symbiosis and separation are found in Poland, the Republic of Ireland, and Switzerland, all countries with competing denominations. Competition is found in Germany, the Netherlands, and again Switzerland, all countries with minority Catholic populations, which to a greater or lesser extent identified with the nation. Finally, separation between religion (again, specifically Catholicism) and the state is found to a great degree in France and Italy, countries where the state actively opposed itself to the authority of the Catholic Church. The combined factors of the formation of nation states and ultramontanism, especially in Germany and the Netherlands, but also in England to a much lesser extent, often forced Catholic churches, organizations, and believers to choose between the national demands of the state and the authority of the Church, specifically the papacy. This conflict came to a head in the First Vatican Council, and in Germany would lead directly to the ''Kulturkampf'', where liberals and Protestants under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck, Bismarck managed to severely restrict Catholic expression and organization. Christian commitment in Europe dropped as modernity and secularism came into their own, particularly in Czechia and Estonia, while religious commitments in America have been generally high in comparison to Europe. The late 20th century has shown the shift of Christian adherence to the Third World and the Southern Hemisphere in general, with the West no longer the chief standard bearer of Christianity. Approximately 7 to 10% of Arabs are Arab Christians and Arabic-speaking Christians, Christians, most prevalent in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.
DemographicsWith around 2.4 billion adherents,31.4% of ≈7.4 billion world population (under the section 'People') split into three main branches of Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox, Christianity is the major religious groups, world's largest religion. The Christian share of the world's population has stood at around 33% for the last hundred years, which means that one in three persons on Earth are Christians. This masks a major shift in the demographics of Christianity; large increases in the developing world have been accompanied by substantial declines in the developed world, mainly in Western Europe and North America. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, within the next four decades, Christianity will remain the largest religion; and by 2050, the Christian population is expected to exceed 3 billion. According to some scholars, Christianity ranks at first place in net gains through religious conversion. As a percentage of Christians, the and Orthodoxy (both Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, Oriental) are declining in some parts of the world (though Catholicism is growing in Asia, in Africa, vibrant in Eastern Europe, etc.), while Protestants and other are on the rise in the developing world. The so-called ''popular Protestantism''A flexible term, defined as all forms of Protestantism with the notable exception of the historical denominations deriving directly from the Protestant Reformation. is one of the fastest growing religious categories in the world. Nevertheless, Catholicism will also continue to grow to 1.63 billion by 2050, according to Todd Johnson of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. Africa alone, by 2015, will be home to 230 million African Catholics. And if in 2018, the U.N. projects that Africa's population will reach 4.5 billion by 2100 (not 2 billion as predicted in 2004), Catholicism will indeed grow, as will other religious groups. According to Pew Research Center, Africa is expected to be home to 1.1 billion Christianity in Africa, African Christians by 2050. In 2010, 87% of world's Christian population lived in countries where Christians are in the majority, while 13% of world's Christian population lived in countries where Christians are in the minority. Christianity is the predominant religion in Europe, the Americas, Oceania, and Southern Africa. In Asia, it is the dominant religion in Armenia, Cyprus, Georgia, East Timor, and the Philippines. However, it is declining in some areas including the northern and western United States, some areas in Oceania (Australia and New ZealandTable 28, 2006 Census Data – QuickStats About Culture and Identity – Tables
Churches and denominationsThe four primary divisions of Christianity are the , the , , and . A broader distinction that is sometimes drawn is between Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity, which has its origins in the (Great Schism) of the 11th century. Recently, neither Western or Eastern World Christianity has also stood out, for example, African-initiated churches. However, there are other present and historical Christian groups that do not fit neatly into one of these primary categories. There is a diversity of doctrines and Liturgy, liturgical practices among groups calling themselves Christian. These groups may vary ecclesiology, ecclesiologically in their views on a classification of Christian denominations. The Nicene Creed (325), however, is typically accepted as authoritative by most Christians, including the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and major Protestant (including Anglican) denominations.
Catholic ChurchThe Catholic Church consists of those particular Church, particular churches, headed by bishops, in communion with the pope, the bishop of Rome, as its highest authority in matters of faith, morality, and church governance.Second Vatican Council,
Eastern Orthodox ChurchThe Eastern Orthodox Church consists of those churches in communion with the patriarchal sees of the East, such as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.Cross/Livingstone. ''The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church'', p. 1199. Like the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church also traces its heritage to the foundation of Christianity through apostolic succession and has an Episcopal polity, episcopal structure, though the autocephaly, autonomy of its component parts is emphasized, and most of them are national churches. Eastern Orthodox theology is based on holy tradition which incorporates the dogmatic decrees of the First seven ecumenical councils, seven Ecumenical Councils, the Scriptures, and the teaching of the Church Fathers. The church teaches that it is the Four Marks of the Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic One true church, church established by Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, and that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. It maintains that it practises the original Christian faith, as passed down by holy tradition. Its patriarchates, reminiscent of the pentarchy, and other autocephalous and autonomous churches reflect a variety of hierarchical Eastern Orthodox Church organization, organisation. It recognises seven major sacraments, of which the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated Divine Liturgy, liturgically in synaxis. The church teaches that through Consecration#Eucharist, consecration epiclesis, invoked by a Priesthood (Orthodox Church), priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Mary, mother of Jesus, Virgin Mary is veneration, venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the Theotokos, God-bearer, honoured in Marian devotions, devotions. Eastern Orthodoxy is the second largest single denomination in Christianity, with an estimated 230 million adherents, although Protestantism, Protestants collectively outnumber them, substantially. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.
Oriental OrthodoxyThe Oriental Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodox Churches (also called "Old Oriental" churches) are those eastern churches that recognize the first three ecumenical councils—First Council of Nicaea, Nicaea, First Council of Constantinople, Constantinople, and First Council of Ephesus, Ephesus—but reject the dogmatic definitions of the and instead espouse a Miaphysite christology. The Oriental Orthodox communion consists of six groups: Syriac Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox Church, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Eritrean Orthodox, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (India), and Armenian Apostolic churches. These six churches, while being in communion with each other, are completely independent hierarchically. These churches are generally not in communion with the , with whom they are in dialogue for erecting a communion. Together, they have about 62 million members worldwide. As some of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Oriental Orthodox Churches have played a prominent role in the history and culture of Armenia, , Turkey, Eritrea, , Nubia#Christian Nubia, Sudan and parts of the and India. An Eastern Christian body of Autocephaly, autocephalous Christian denomination, churches, its bishops are equal by virtue of Consecration#Ordination of bishops, episcopal ordination, and its doctrines can be summarized in that the churches recognize the validity of only the first three ecumenical councils.
Assyrian Church of the EastThe Assyrian Church of the East, with an unbroken patriarchate established in the 17th century, is an independent Eastern Christian denomination which claims continuity from the —in parallel to the Catholic patriarchate established in the 16th century that evolved into the Chaldean Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Pope. It is an Eastern Christian Christian denomination, church that follows the traditional christology and of the historical Church of the East. Largely Aniconism in Christianity, aniconic and not in communion (Christianity), communion with any other church, it belongs to the eastern branch of Syriac Christianity, and uses the East Syriac Rite in its liturgy. Its main spoken language is Syriac language, Syriac, a dialect of Eastern Aramaic, and the majority of its adherents are ethnic Assyrian people, Assyrians. It is officially headquartered in the city of Erbil in northern Iraqi Kurdistan, and its original area also spreads into south-eastern Turkey and north-western Iran, corresponding to ancient Assyria. Its hierarchy is composed of metropolitan bishops and diocesan bishops, while lower clergy consists of priests and deacons, who serve in dioceses (eparchies) and parishes throughout the Middle East, India, North America, Oceania, and Europe (including the Caucasus and Russia). The Ancient Church of the East distinguished itself from the Assyrian Church of the East in 1964. It is one of the Assyrian people, Assyrian churches that claim continuity with the historical Church of the East, one of the oldest Christian churches in Mesopotamia.
ProtestantismIn 1521, the Edict of Worms condemned Martin Luther and officially banned citizens of the Holy Roman Empire from defending or propagating his ideas.Fahlbusch, Erwin, and Bromiley, Geoffrey William, ''The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 3''. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2003. p. 362. This split within the Roman Catholic church is now called the . Prominent Reformers included Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Calvin. The 1529 Protestation at Speyer against being excommunicated gave this party the name . Luther's primary theological heirs are known as Lutheranism, Lutherans. Zwingli and Calvin's heirs are far broader denominationally, and are referred to as the Calvinism, Reformed tradition.McManners, ''Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity''. pp. 251–259. Protestants have developed Protestant culture, their own culture, with major contributions in education, the humanities and sciences, the political and social order, the economy and the arts, and many other fields.Karl Heussi, ''Kompendium der Kirchengeschichte'', 11. Auflage (1956), Tübingen (Germany), pp. 317–319, 325–326 The Anglicanism, Anglican churches descended from the Church of England and organized in the Anglican Communion. Some, but not all Anglicans consider themselves both Protestant and Catholic. Since the Anglican, Lutheran, and the Reformed branches of Protestantism originated for the most part in cooperation with the government, these movements are termed the "Magisterial Reformation". On the other hand, groups such as the Anabaptism, Anabaptists, who often do not consider themselves to be Protestant, originated in the Radical Reformation, which though sometimes protected under ''Acts of Toleration'', do not trace their history back to any state church. They are further distinguished by their rejection of infant baptism; they believe in baptism only of adult believers—credobaptism (Anabaptists include the Amish, Apostolic Christian Church, Apostolic, Mennonites, Hutterites, River Brethren and Schwarzenau Brethren/German Baptist groups.) The term ''Protestant'' also refers to any churches which formed later, with either the Magisterial or Radical traditions. In the 18th century, for example, Methodism grew out of Anglican minister John Wesley's Evangelical Revival, evangelical revival movement. Several Pentecostal and Nondenominational Christianity, non-denominational churches, which emphasize the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, in turn grew out of Methodism. Because Methodists, Pentecostals and other evangelicals stress "accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior", which comes from Wesley's emphasis of the Born again (Christianity), New Birth, they often refer to themselves as being Born again Christianity, born-again. Protestantism is the second largest major group of Christians after Catholicism by number of followers, although the Eastern Orthodox Church is larger than any single Protestant denomination. Estimates vary, mainly over the question of which denominations to classify as Protestant. Yet, the total number of Protestant Christians is generally estimated between 800 million and 1 billion, corresponding to nearly 40% of world's Christians. The majority of Protestants are members of just a handful of denominational families, i.e. Adventism, Adventists, Anglicanism, Anglicans, Baptists, Calvinism, Reformed (Calvinists), Lutheranism, Lutherans, Methodism, Methodists, Moravian Church, Moravians/Hussite Church, Hussites, and Pentecostalism, Pentecostals. Nondenominational Christianity, Nondenominational, Evangelicalism, evangelical, Charismatic Movement, charismatic, Neo-charismatic churches, neo-charismatic, independent, and other churches are on the rise, and constitute a significant part of Protestant Christianity. Some groups of individuals who hold basic Protestant tenets identify themselves simply as "Christians" or "born-again Christians". They typically distance themselves from the confessionalism (religion), confessionalism and alism of other Christian communitiesConfessionalism is a term employed by historians to refer to "the creation of fixed identities and systems of beliefs for separate churches which had previously been more fluid in their self-understanding, and which had not begun by seeking separate identities for themselves—they had wanted to be truly Catholic and reformed." (MacCulloch, ''The Reformation: A History'', p. xxiv.) by calling themselves "Non-denominational Christianity, non-denominational" or "evangelical". Often founded by individual pastors, they have little affiliation with historic denominations.
RestorationismThe Second Great Awakening, a period of religious revival that occurred in the United States during the early 1800s, saw the development of a number of unrelated churches. They generally saw themselves as Restorationism, restoring the original church of Jesus Christ rather than reforming one of the existing churches. A common belief held by Restorationists was that the other divisions of Christianity had introduced doctrinal defects into Christianity, which was known as the Great Apostasy. In Asia, Iglesia ni Cristo is a known restorationist religion that was established during the early 1900s. Some of the churches originating during this period are historically connected to early 19th-century camp meetings in the Midwest and upstate New York. One of the largest churches produced from the movement is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. American Millennialism and Adventism, which arose from Evangelical Protestantism, influenced the Jehovah's Witnesses movement and, as a reaction specifically to William Miller (preacher), William Miller, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Seventh-day Adventists. Others, including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Evangelical Christian Church in Canada, Churches of Christ, and the Christian churches and churches of Christ, have their roots in the contemporaneous Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, which was centered in Kentucky and Tennessee. Other groups originating in this time period include the Christadelphians and the previously mentioned Latter Day Saints movement. While the churches originating in the Second Great Awakening have some superficial similarities, their doctrine and practices vary significantly.
OtherWithin Italy, Poland, Lithuania, Transylvania, Hungary, Romania, and the United Kingdom, Unitarianism, Unitarian Churches emerged from the Reformed tradition, Reformed tradition in the 16th century; the Unitarian Church of Transylvania is an example such a denomination that arose in this era. They adopted the Anabaptist doctrine of credobaptism. Various smaller Independent Catholic communities, such as the Old Catholic Church, include the word ''Catholic (term), Catholic'' in their title, and arguably have more or less liturgical practices in common with the , but are no longer in full communion with the Holy See. Spiritual Christians, such as the Doukhobors and Molokans, broke from the Russian Orthodox Church and maintain close association with Mennonites and Quakers due to similar religious practices; all of these groups are furthermore collectively considered to be peace churches due to their belief in Christian pacifism, pacifism. Messianic Judaism (or the Messianic Movement) is the name of a Christian movement comprising a number of streams, whose members may consider themselves Jewish. The movement originated in the 1960s and 1970s, and it blends elements of religious Jewish practice with evangelical Christianity. Messianic Judaism affirms Christian creeds such as the messiahship and divinity of "Yeshua" (the Hebrew name of Jesus) and the Triune Nature of God, while also adhering to some Jewish dietary laws and customs. Esoteric Christianity, Esoteric Christians regard Christianity as a Western esotericism, mystery religion and profess the existence and possession of certain Esotericism, esoteric doctrines or practices, hidden from the public and accessible only to a narrow circle of "enlightened", "initiated", or highly educated people. Some of the esoteric Christian institutions include the Rosicrucian Fellowship, the Anthroposophical Society, and Martinism. Nondenominational Christianity or non-denominational Christianity consists of Simple church, churches which typically distance themselves from the confessionalism (religion), confessionalism or alism of other Christian communities by not formally aligning with a specific Christian denomination. Nondenominational Christianity first arose in the 18th century through the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, with followers organizing themselves simply as "Christians (Stone Movement), Christians" and "Disciples of Christ (Campbell Movement), Disciples of Christ", but many typically adhere to evangelical Christianity.
Influence on Western cultureWestern culture, throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture, and a large portion of the population of the Western Hemisphere can be described as practicing or nominal Christians. The notion of "Europe" and the "Western World" has been intimately connected with the concept of "Christianity and Christendom". Many historians even attribute Christianity for being the link that created a unified European identity. Though Western culture contained several polytheistic religions during its early years under the Ancient Greece, Greek and Roman Empire, Roman empires, as the centralized Roman power waned, the dominance of the Catholic Church was the only consistent force in Western Europe. Until the Age of Enlightenment, Christian culture guided the course of philosophy, literature, art, music and science. Christian disciplines of the respective arts have subsequently developed into Christian philosophy, Christian art, Christian music, Christian literature, and so on. Christianity has had a significant impact on education, as the church created the bases of the Western system of education, and was the sponsor of Medieval university, founding universities in the Western world, as the university is generally regarded as an institution that has its origin in the History of Christianity, Medieval Christian setting. Historically, Christianity has often been a patron of science and medicine; many List of Catholic cleric-scientists, Catholic clergy, List of Jesuit scientists, Jesuits in particular, have been active in the sciences throughout history and have made significant contributions to the Christianity and science, development of science. Protestantism also has had an important influence on science. According to the Merton Thesis, there was a positive correlation between the rise of English Puritanism and German Pietism on the one hand, and early experimental science on the other.Sztompka, 2003 The civilizing influence of Christianity includes social welfare, founding hospitals, economics (as the Protestant work ethic), architecture,Sir Banister Fletcher, ''History of Architecture on the Comparative Method''. politics, literature, Hygiene in Christianity, personal hygiene (Ablution in Christianity, ablution), and family life. Eastern Christians (particularly Nestorianism, Nestorian ) contributed to the Arab Islamic Golden Age, Islamic civilization during the reign of the Ummayads, Ummayad and the Abbasids, Abbasid, by translating works of Greek philosophers to Syriac language, Syriac and afterwards, to Arabic language, Arabic. They also excelled in philosophy, science, theology, and medicine. Lists of Christians, Christians have made a myriad of contributions to Progress (history), human progress in a broad and diverse range of fields, including philosophy, List of Christians in science and technology, science and technology, Catholic Church and health care, medicine, List of Catholic Church artists, fine arts and architecture, Christianity and politics, politics, List of Catholic authors, literatures, Christian Music, music,Hall, p. 100. and business. According to ''100 Years of Nobel Prizes'' a review of the Nobel Prizes award between 1901 and 2000 reveals that (65.4%) of Nobel Prizes Laureates, List of Christian Nobel laureates, have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference.Baruch A. Shalev, ''100 Years of Nobel Prizes'' (2003), Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, p. 57: between 1901 and 2000 reveals that 654 Laureates belong to 28 different religions. Most (65.4%) have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference. Cultural Christians are secular people with a Christian heritage who may not believe in the religious claims of Christianity, but who retain an affinity for the popular culture, art, Christian music, music, and so on related to the religion. ''Postchristianity'' is the term for the decline of Christianity, particularly in Christianity in Europe, Europe, Religion in Canada, Canada, Christianity in Australia, Australia, and to a minor degree the Southern Cone, in the 20th and 21st centuries, considered in terms of postmodernism. It refers to the loss of Christianity's monopoly on values and world view in historically Christian societies.
EcumenismChristian groups and denominations have long expressed ideals of being reconciled, and in the 20th century, Christian advanced in two ways.McManners, ''Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity'', pp. 581–584. One way was greater cooperation between groups, such as the World Evangelical Alliance founded in 1846 in London or the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of Protestants in 1910, the Justice, Peace and Creation Commission of the World Council of Churches founded in 1948 by Protestant and Orthodox churches, and similar national councils like the National Council of Churches in Australia, which includes Catholics. The other way was an institutional union with United and uniting churches, united churches, a practice that can be traced back to unions between Lutherans and Calvinists in early 19th-century Germany. Congregationalist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches united in 1925 to form the United Church of Canada, and in 1977 to form the Uniting Church in Australia. The Church of South India was formed in 1947 by the union of Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Congregationalist, and Presbyterian churches. The Christian Flag is an ecumenical flag designed in the early 20th century to represent all of Christianity and Christendom. The ecumenical, monasticism, monastic Taizé Community is notable for being composed of more than one hundred monk, brothers from Protestant and Catholic traditions. The community emphasizes the reconciliation of all denominations and its main church, located in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire, France, is named the "Church of Reconciliation". The community is internationally known, attracting over 100,000 young Christian pilgrimage, pilgrims annually. Steps towards reconciliation on a global level were taken in 1965 by the Catholic and Orthodox churches, mutually revoking the excommunications that marked their East-West Schism, Great Schism in 1054; the Anglican Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) working towards full communion between those churches since 1970; and some Lutheran World Federation, Lutheran and Catholic churches signing the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 1999 to address conflicts at the root of the Protestant Reformation. In 2006, the World Methodist Council, representing all Methodist denominations, adopted the declaration.
Criticism, persecution, and apologetics
CriticismCriticism of Christianity and Christians goes back to the Apostolic Age, with the New Testament recording friction between the followers of Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes (e.g. and ). In the 2nd century, Christianity was criticized by the Jews on various grounds, e.g. that the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible could not have been fulfilled by Jesus, given that he did not have a successful life. Additionally, a sacrifice to remove sins in advance, for everyone or as a human being, did not fit to the Jewish sacrifice ritual; furthermore, God in Judaism, God is said to judge people on their deeds instead of their beliefs. One of the first comprehensive attacks on Christianity came from the Greek philosopher Celsus, who wrote ''The True Word'', a polemic criticizing Christians as being unprofitable members of society. In response, the church father Origen published his treatise ''Contra Celsum'', or ''Against Celsus'', a seminal work of Christian apologetics, which systematically addressed Celsus's criticisms and helped bring Christianity a level of academic respectability. By the 3rd century, criticism of Christianity had mounted. Wild rumors about Christians were widely circulated, claiming that they were atheism, atheists and that, as part of their rituals, they devoured human infants and engaged in incestuous orgies. The Neoplatonism, Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry (philosopher), Porphyry wrote the fifteen-volume ''Adversus Christianos'' as a comprehensive attack on Christianity, in part building on the teachings of Plotinus. By the 12th century, the Mishneh Torah (i.e., Rabbi Moses Maimonides) was criticizing Christianity on the grounds of idol worship, in that Christians attributed divinity to Jesus, who had a physical body. In the 19th century, Nietzsche began to write a series of polemics on the "unnatural" teachings of Christianity (e.g. sexual abstinence), and continued his criticism of Christianity to the end of his life. In the 20th century, the philosopher Bertrand Russell expressed his criticism of Christianity in ''Why I Am Not a Christian'', formulating his rejection of Christianity in the setting of logical arguments. Criticism of Christianity continues to date, e.g. Jewish and Muslim theologians criticize the doctrine of the Trinity held by most Christians, stating that this doctrine in effect assumes that there are three gods, running against the basic tenet of monotheism. New Testament scholar Robert M. Price has outlined the possibility that some Bible stories are based partly on myth in ''The Christ Myth Theory and its problems''.
PersecutionChristians are one of the most Persecution of Christians, persecuted religious group in the world, especially in the Christianity in the Middle East, Middle-East, North Africa and South and East Asia. In 2017, Open Doors estimated approximately 260 million Christians are subjected annually to "high, very high, or extreme persecution"Weber, Jeremy. "'Worst year yet’: the top 50 countries where it's hardest to be a Christian".
ApologeticsChristian apologetics aims to present a reason, rational basis for Christianity. The word "apologetic" (Greek: ἀπολογητικός ''apologētikos'') comes from the Greek verb ἀπολογέομαι ''apologeomai'', meaning "(I) speak in defense of". Christian apologetics has taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul the Apostle. The philosopher Thomas Aquinas presented five arguments for God's existence in the ''Summa Theologica'', while his ''Summa contra Gentiles'' was a major apologetic work. Another famous apologist, G. K. Chesterton, wrote in the early twentieth century about the benefits of religion and, specifically, Christianity. Famous for his use of paradox, Chesterton explained that while Christianity had the most mysteries, it was the most practical religion. He pointed to the Role of the Christian Church in civilization, advance of Christian civilizations as proof of its practicality. The physicist and priest John Polkinghorne, in his ''Questions of Truth'', discusses the subject of religion and science, a topic that other Christian apologists such as Ravi Zacharias, John Lennox, and William Lane Craig have engaged, with the latter two men opining that the Religious interpretations of the Big Bang theory, inflationary Big Bang model is evidence for the existence of God. Creationist apologetics is apologetics that aims to defend creationism.
See also* Outline of Christianity * Christian atheism * Christianity and Islam * Christianity and Judaism * Christianity and politics * Christian mythology *Christianisation * One true church * Prophets of Christianity
Bibliography* Greg Bahnsen, Bahnsen, Greg.
Further reading* * * MacCulloch, Diarmaid. ''Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years'' (Viking; 2010) 1,161 pp.; survey by leading historian * * * * * Roper, J.C., ''Bp''. (1923), ''et al.''. ''Faith in God'', in series, ''Layman's Library of Practical Religion, Church of England in Canada'', vol. 2. Toronto, Ont.: Musson Book Co. ''N.B''.: The series statement is given in the more extended form which appears on the book's front cover. * * * * * * * Garry Wills, Wills, Garry, "A Wild and Indecent Book" (review of David Bentley Hart, ''The New Testament: A Translation'', Yale University Press, 577 pp.), ''The New York Review of Books'', vol. LXV, no. 2 (8 February 2018), pp. 34–35. Discusses some pitfalls in interpreting and translating the .